“I was never the weed dude,” says Aaron Chamberlin, CEO of Good Things Coming, a new line of cannabis-infused edibles. “I wasn’t sitting around smoking pot all day. But I saw how legalized marijuana was changing the world. I saw the limitations of the restaurant business, and I saw how cannabis could help people with health issues.”
Chamberlin is the chef behind several renowned local restaurants: St. Francis, Phoenix Public Market Cafe, Taco Chelo. But lately, he's taken some time away from the restaurant business. He announced about six months ago that Phoenix Public Market would close — a blessing in disguise, he says. “That business hadn’t done well financially for a year,” Chamberlin says. “My landlord had the building under contract and wanted me to leave. It was serendipity.”
Chamberlin still owns Taco Chelo but doesn’t manage it. And he recently put Chef Dad, a program designed to teach kids healthy eating habits, on hold.
Instead, he's been directed his creative energies toward a question that's been bugging him for a while: Why cannabis edibles routinely taste so bad.
“To me, every edible always tasted like it came from some bad highway coffee shop,” he says. “The simple fact is that you’re putting a medicinal plant into a candy. But I knew there was something else going on.”
As Chamberlin educated himself on the topic, he found that most pot-infused confections he’d had tasted crummy because they were made with cheap ingredients.
“The sweet things were all made with corn syrup and fruit flavorings, instead of organic sugar and fruit,” he explains. “At Phoenix Public Market we were making all these beautiful baked goods with organic ingredients, and I knew I could take that concept and apply it to cannabis edibles, too.”
Chamberlin hooked up with Copperstate Farms, an Arizona-based cannabis company with one of the largest marijuana greenhouses in the country. Together, they’ve kickstarted Good Things Coming, an edibles line that includes a brownie bite, a hard candy, and four different jellies.
“The timing has been perfect,” he says. “I hate the pandemic and all the harm it’s done, but when COVID hit, everyone started buying cannabis like crazy.”
Early response to Chamberlin’s organic and whole food-based sweets, available at local dispensaries, has been excellent. “People like that you can take our cherry gummy and spread it on toast like fruit jelly because it’s made with pectin and not gelatin,” he says. “I make a lavender lemon drop that has lavender from a farm up here in Snowflake, and we juiced the lemons ourselves. The candy is made with organic sugar, and the brownie is made with Marana chocolate, so it stays really moist.”
Chamberlin hasn’t vanquished the flavor of pot from his confections, though. “I want to taste the purity of every ingredient when I bake,” he explains. “So there’s a little bit of cannabis aftertaste that’s intentional.”
He’s also keeping an eye on how much pot goes into each of his treats. “These are micro-doses,” he explains. “Because people are using our edibles medicinally, it’s important they feel the same way every time they eat one. If you dose too high, you’re on a ride. And that’s not what we want for people.”
What he does want, Chamberlin says, is for people to have healthy options.
“I’m thinking about the Arcadia housewife who’s relaxing with a bottle of wine but tired of the hangover the next day,” he says. “Now she can have a lemon candy instead, and all the questions get answered — less stress, no unpleasant after-effect.”
The question remaining is whether Chamberlin will return one day to the restaurant business. “I think it’s inevitable,” he admits. “But first I want to get back to Chef Dad, and I want to start on a cookbook, and there’s always something else coming up.”
He laughs. “Right now, I’m too busy thinking about cannabis edibles to think about all that other stuff.”